Monday, June 07, 2010

Violence in Jamaica as police and military seek alleged drug trafficker wanted in the U.S.

Ethan Nadelmann provides an excellent overview of the factors underlying the violence in Jamaica in a May 27, 2010 interview on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on Washington, DC's WAMU-88.5 FM. Ethan's interview starts at about 07:00 minutes and lasts for 12 minutes.

Jamaican authorities began an operation on May 21 to seize Christopher Coke, a.k.a. "Dudus," widely believed to be a "drug lord" who had been fighting extradition to the United States. The operation was resisted, and 60 civilians and officials were reported killed by May 27. The Jamaican government had been resisting the extradition, he was being represented by former top government officials, and the Jamaican government hired a major Washington, DC law and lobbying firm to help fight the extradition. See a Times of London account of his indictment in the U.S. here.
Coke's organization, the Shower Posse, is one of a number of entrenched drug trafficking and crime organization in Kingston, Jamaica and various U.S. cities. The story of the rise to power of these posses is told in the excellent ethnographic study, Born Fi' Dead, by Laurie Gunst, who earned a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. (The book was one of the principal texts in the course I taught in 1996, Violence and Values, for the Washington Lutheran College Program.)

The posse's political power and initial stock of weapons arose as the U.S. CIA meddled in Jamaican politics in the October 1980 election to support the campaign of Edward Seaga's party, the Jamaican Labour Party, to win the Prime Minister's seat from Michael Manley's more leftist Peoples National Party. The posses played critical roles in that election, and soon were deeply enmeshed in the cocaine traffic to the United States, and the distribution of crack cocaine in American neighborhoods.

Today, Christopher Coke's posse is a major prop of political power for current Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding -- which he denies.

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